6 ways to know if you’re ready to be a manager
If you’ve been successful at work, it’s inevitable that your superiors will eventually look at you and wonder whether you are management material.
It’s a question you should also be asking yourself. Many of us are quickly lured into management positions based on the promise of a higher salary and more distinguished title, when in fact it’s a decision we should weigh more carefully.
After all, not everyone is suited for the actual daily demands of leading and managing people.
“Career professionals deal with this all the time. I speak to MBAs and physicians, and for engineers too, it’s so common to say: ‘Do I stick with the specialist and technical track or do I aim for the management track?’” said Mark Franklin, practice leader at CareerCycles and co-founder of OneLifeTools.
“Sometimes it’s an unconscious thing. They wait for the promotion, only to find they hate that management job and want to go back to the technical position.”
Of course, that’s not an ideal way to, well, manage your career. So, here’s what to ask yourself if you’re considering a move to management.
Are you a good teacher?
Management is about getting the most out of your team, so think honestly about your interest in leadership and coaching.
Are you a patient person who’s passionate about helping others thrive? Or deep down do you prefer the efficiency of working independently?
“Being a good manager is not about being technically expert as much as it is about being a sound people manager, and these days that’s about coaching, mentoring, teaching, and supporting,” Franklin said.
“And if you really like that, the people development part of it, even more than the technical aspect, then that’s a good clue.”
Can you listen to people’s problems?
As a manager, any issue in your employee’s life could suddenly become your business, whether it’s a health problem, family drama at home, or on-the-job burnout.
Empathetic listeners with supportive personalities make good managers; those of us who cringe at such awkward conversations do not.
“We actually get this a lot in that some people say, ‘I want to keep advancing in my career, but I really don’t want to be a manager and deal with other people’s problems. I don’t want the hassle of it; that’s not my strength,’” said Lee Weisser, career counsellor and life coach at Careers by Design.
How’s your feedback?
Simply put, an effective manager has to give effective criticism.
Giving constructive criticism is a skill, and not everyone excels at offering frank feedback.
“I speak to lots of people who claim they have really bad managers,” Franklin said. “You listen to the story and you hear things like: ‘the manager waited for my performance review, six months later, to tell me this thing they could have told me right in the moment, but he was uncomfortable giving that feedback.’
“Providing clear, direct, and timely corrective feedback is crucial as a manager. It’s always nice to give people a pat on the back, and hopefully any manager will do that, but the harder job seems to be giving corrective feedback.”
How do you cope with conflict?
In management, every issue within your team, from minor squabbles to major meltdowns, will probably wind up at your office door.
Some people don’t have the stomach for defusing heated disagreements, but managers who avoid dealing with conflict tend to create dysfunctional environments.
“Are you a direct conflict manager or are you conflict-avoidant?” asked Franklin. “If you don’t really like conflict, that’s another clue.”
Are you ready to lead by example?
Ultimately, taking this step means becoming a model employee for your team. So, ideally, no more strolling in a half hour late, showing up unprepared for meetings or casually ignoring a company initiative.
You might even have to step up your wardrobe.
Do you like meetings?
You had better, because a job in management means an inbox full of calendar requests.
“If meetings drive you absolutely crazy and you want to just get on with the work, maybe the technical track is for you,” Franklin said. “Because now you’ll meet with your own team as manager, you’ll have someone you report to and you’ll be joining management meetings.
“So you have to ask, do you have that appetite for meetings?”